G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Woodrow Wilson, Hillary Clinton: Live and Let Live. जरा जगा अन् जरा जगूं द्या

For Newsweek December 10, 2007, Adam B. Kushner reviewed David A. Andelman's new book, "A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today".

His conclusion: American President Woodrow Wilson was an inadvertent villain. (Like so many other American Presidents since and before him, I might add!)

“… Every high school student learns how the punitive Treaty of Versailles the American president helped negotiate in Paris pushed Germany toward militarism, National Socialism, and eventually World War II. Andelman looks beyond Hitler, surveying the worldwide havoc the document wrought. There is no dearth of material.

Of course, Wilson wasn't the sole architect of that global catastrophe. But unlike the incompetents, cynics, and partisans who populate Andelman's account, Wilson entered (and won) the war on behalf of his Fourteen Points, which promised freedom and self-government for every people. Instead, the treaty, enabled by his naiveté, betrayed those ideals and laid the groundwork for another world war, followed by 50 years of imperial chess. And the victims whose self-determination Wilson signed away at Versailles represent, to Andelman, the nails in Wilson's coffin.

Why'd he do it? For a fantastical notion called the League of Nations—a precursor to the United Nations that he hoped would prevent future wars. Wilson understood it was a hard sell—why should the winners surrender any sovereignty? So he knowingly allowed the Allies to make greedy (and colonial) territory assignments, guessing that his deference would buy enough goodwill to make the League real. Once it existed, he assumed, it would simply fix the mistakes of Versailles…

…Predictably, the League of Nations was never going to right these wrongs. In fact, the U.S. Senate wouldn't even approve its creation, and without American muscle it had no real power. Around the globe, the mistakes of Versailles then began to multiply. Maps that had been drawn strategically to divide coal mines and ports rendered states with indefensible borders and irredentist minorities: ethnic Germans in Poland, for example, clamored noisily to rejoin the motherland until Hitler's panzer divisions granted their wish just two decades later.

Meanwhile, native peoples—from Algeria to China—subjugated by Allied colonies after Versailles furnished inviting targets for communist insurrections throughout the century. And in outposts like Saudi Arabia, where revolutionaries failed to eject Western-friendly despots, anti-colonial feelings often turned anti-Western. Wilson hoped the 117,000 American dead in World War I would fertilize the seed of democracy; instead, Andelman says, they produced Al Qaeda. ..”

When I was taught League of Nations at Miraj High School (9th standard?),where great historian Vasudevshastri Khare वासुदेवशास्त्री खरे was a teacher once, I wasn’t taught a word of this!

Woodrow Wilson for a long time was a hero to me.

B S Mardhekar बा. सी. मर्ढेकर was a poet with global sensibilities. Korean war was a major event in world history but rarely figures in Marathi literature. Mardhekar’s few poems must be an exception.

"अजून येतो वास फुलांना"(Still fragrance emanates from flowers) is one such. Another one is "जमीन म्हणते मीच धांवतें" (Ground says I only run).

The latter poem has this stanza.

नळीतलें जग नळीत जगतें
उगाच रुसवा रसायनाचा;
उगाच दावा मानवतेचा
आणिक डंका सामर्थ्याचा !

“Testtube world lives in testtube
gratuitous grudge of chemicals;
gratuitous claim of humanism
And drumbeating of brute force !”

The late M V Dhond म वा धोंड reviewed it for दैवज्ञश्री(दिवाळी Diwali 2000). He showed how this was a severe indictment of hypocrisy in American claim of humanism and Chinese claim of communism.

Testtube world is the world of hoi polloi.

See related picture post here.


President Woodrow Wilson campaigning on behalf of the League of Nations in St. Paul, Minn., in 1919 (Picture Courtesy- Newsweek website).

He looks so photogenic. Everyone around him looks so happy. He might win in 2008!